Healthy Living in the North

Oral Health Month: Working in the Emergency Dental Outreach Clinic

Spirit the caribou in front of baby teeth poster
I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be involved in the Emergency Dental Outreach Clinic (EDOC) as the clinic coordinator. It’s an amazing clinic where our services are extremely valued. This year, EDOC was even nominated for a Healthier You Award in the Outstanding Multicultural Contribution category! With Oral Health Month now upon us, I wanted to take this chance to tell you a little more about this special service.

What is the Emergency Dental Outreach Clinic?

EDOC is a not-for-profit clinic that was started in 2006 by Carole Whitmer, RDH, and Dr. Richard Wilczek as they sought to remove barriers for community members without access to dental care.

There are 20 not-for-profit clinics in B.C. and, apart from coordinator support offered by Northern Health, the clinic in Prince George is the only one that operates strictly with the support of volunteers. I think this speaks volumes to the amazing Prince George dental community! This clinic is only possible because of community partnerships between the local dental community, the Native Friendship Centre (who provide free space, accounting, utilities, and security), and Northern Health.

What do we do at the clinic?

The clinic provides a place for people to go to have emergency dental care free of charge. It is an extraction service only and runs in the evenings on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month out of a clinic in the Native Friendship Centre (1600 3rd Avenue, Prince George). Although free of charge, we gratefully accept donations, which help cover the cost of supplies.

Who uses EDOC services?

The people who access EDOC come from a variety of backgrounds and locations, but the common thread is a need and appreciation for the no-barrier access to emergency dental care. We have many repeat customers and there is a sense of community and caring amongst those waiting. A few months ago, on one of the coldest nights of the year, one of our clients left after his extraction only to return with a “Take 10” of Tim Hortons coffee for the dental volunteers and those still waiting for care! Even though those who use the clinic face financial challenges, what I’ve seen is that they gratefully donate what they can for the treatment provided.

EDOC is a much needed and appreciated program that serves the Prince George and the outlying areas – I feel lucky to be a part of this great program!

Jane Bartell

About Jane Bartell

Jane works at Northern Health as the Emergency Dental Outreach Clinic coordinator and as a community dental hygienist, travelling to many communities in the northern interior. Her passion is to have children in the north grow up as healthy as possible, especially from a dental perspective. In her spare time, Jane most enjoys spending time with family and friends hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing on the amazing trails around Prince George. She also enjoys the great music culture that Prince George offers.

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Workplace tragedy is preventable: Steps for Life

This time of year provides us with many opportunities to reflect on the issue of health and safety in the workplace. April 28 is the National Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace and the first week of May is set aside as Occupational Safety & Health Week across North America.

Geneviève Fox is a community member in Prince George who is passionate about this issue and keen to raise awareness of health and safety in the workplace. She firmly believes that every worker should be coming home safe at the end of each day and has become involved in shining a light on this issue in Prince George.

I had the pleasure of asking Geneviève a few questions about workplace health and safety and the Steps for Life event that she is helping to organize in Prince George.

Steps for Life poster

“The only work is safe work; workplace tragedy is preventable.” Join Steps for Life in Prince George on May 1st at Masich Place Stadium.

The Steps for Life event in Prince George on May 1st marks the start of North American Occupational Safety & Health Week. Why will you be walking? Why is health and safety at work important to you?

In February 2015, I contacted Steps for Life to ask them when the walk would be coming to Prince George, a community that has been deeply affected by workplace tragedy. They told me it was not planned to come to Prince George and subsequently asked me if I would like to bring the walk to the community. I said yes, and our event will be happening May 1 at Masich Place Stadium. I think this walk is important because of the impact workplace tragedies have had here. It will also promote awareness of the services Threads of Life offers to those families and individuals in need.

What are some key messages for workplace safety that event participants would like residents of northern B.C. to know?

I cannot speak on behalf of the participants as I imagine each would have their own unique message to share. But if I were to generalize, I would say that for all of us involved there is a core, shared belief that every worker in Canada should be coming home safe at the end of each work day.

April 28 is the National Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace. What does the Day of Mourning mean to you?

The Day of Mourning is a vital day for all Canadians. We take time on that day to remember the unnecessary loss of life due to workplace tragedy. The Day of Mourning is not only a day for us to pay our respects to, and remember, the fallen, but it also serves as a sombre reminder that we must always stay vigilant and diligent with workplace health and safety, continuously improving our policies, procedures, systems, and practices.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about this important topic?

The only work is safe work; workplace tragedy is preventable. Get involved with health and safety at your workplace and stay informed. Remember that you are an important part of the internal responsibility system.

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog.

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Northern balance

Young woman with two dogs in a forest

For Ashley, having access to nature just a few steps away in Prince George was crucial to finding a balance last year.

Last year was a busy time to say the least. For some reason, I thought that it would be a great idea to take a master’s program full time while working full time. I wouldn’t recommend it! That said, I know for a fact that if I lived anywhere other than northern B.C., this would have been not only difficult but totally impossible. Looking back on last year, because of the region where I lived, I actually led a seriously awesome lifestyle. One of the biggest pluses has been that when my brain was absolutely jam-packed with school lectures and work reports, I could walk to the end of my street and be in the calming stillness of nature surrounded by trees, birds, and a friendly neighbourhood moose or two.

In my six years in Prince George, I have never been as thankful to live here as I have in the past year. Getting this degree while working full time and maintaining a high level of mental wellness would not have been possible anywhere else. Some of the biggest factors that have made this possible for me include affordability, my minimal commute, and instant access to nature.

Two moose in a yard.

Occasionally, the chance to observe a moose or two would provide a well-needed study break for Ashley.

In the Lower Mainland or southern parts of B.C., there would be no way I could afford to pay for school without loans and with my full-time school and work schedule, it would be impossible to get from A to B on time. On top of this, I’d be crammed into a tiny apartment. The most important thing for me, however, has been the ability to get away from it all: to take my dog on daily walks in the bush and to be able to spend almost every weekend at a cabin, on a hiking trail, or on a ski slope or trail because it is all so close.

One thing I have learned in class is that your body takes an average of 14 minutes to adjust its frequency to its surroundings and that nature has a low, calming frequency. When pulling out my hair about research papers, exams, and statistics, the ability to calm my body’s frequency and clear my head with 14 minutes in nature has been a total lifesaver. When my “southern” friends ignorantly scoff at where I live, I simply ask them how renting, long commutes, and being broke while being trapped in the rat race is going for them. Then I tell them that I’m going to have a beer on my back deck, watch the moose in my backyard, and read a book in awesome tranquility.

Ashley Ellerbeck

About Ashley Ellerbeck

Ashley has been a recruiter for Northern Health since 2011 and absolutely loves her job and living in northern B.C. Ashley was born and raised in Salmon Arm and then obtained her undergraduate degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops before completing her master's degree at UNBC. When not travelling across Canada recruiting health care professionals, Ashley enjoys being outside, yoga, cooking, real estate, her amazing friends, and travelling the globe.

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Climbing to healthy goals

Jessica climbs a wall

Getting a great workout on the climbing wall.

Rock climbing always seemed like an inaccessible – and, honestly, scary – sport to me. It was something my husband always wanted to try, but I was pretty reluctant. But when the new climbing wall, OVERhang, opened in Prince George, I agreed to give it a try, appreciating that we’d be doing this in a controlled, safe environment with professionals there to teach us as we went (as opposed to heading to a random cliff and “winging it” as was my husband’s “half-joking” idea).

During our first visit, I still wasn’t convinced that I’d have the upper body strength to climb a wall, and the prospect of belaying my hubby as he climbed created visions of me messing up and him falling to the floor. But I was determined to give it a try. (Note, for those who don’t know: belaying is the climbing technique that the person at the bottom uses to keep the rope tight and steady. The rope is passed through the anchor system at the top and then attached to the climber’s harness.)

We took a short introductory course to learn the ropes (pun intended!). And wouldn’t you know it, I could climb a wall! It turned out you don’t have to be “ripped” – I found that it’s actually more about technique and focus. After visiting the climbing wall weekly for about six weeks, I noticed that my hands got stronger, I had more endurance, I could conquer more difficult routes up the walls, and most importantly, I had the confidence to try those harder routes.

Now, as we continue to push ourselves at the wall, not only are we enjoying a regular activity together, but we’re being social with other people at the gym (everyone I’ve met who “climb” are super friendly!) and we’ve found something that gets us out of the house and gets our bodies moving – without even having to deal with the winter weather! It really is a great workout – gets our hearts pumping and builds our functional fitness. It’s also good for the mind – planning a route up the wall is kind of like a puzzle for your brain – you have to really think about what holds to use and where to put your feet to make it to the top the easiest. It really is a full package activity!

Do you have an activity like this that you can enjoy in the winter? Do you have a climbing wall in your community? Let us know in the comments!

Jessica Quinn

About Jessica Quinn

Jessica Quinn is the regional manager of health promotion and community engagement for Northern Health, where she is actively involved in promoting the great work of NH staff to encourage healthy, well and active lifestyles. She also manages NH's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). When she's not working, Jessica stays active by exploring the beautiful outdoors around Prince George via kayak, hiking boots or snowshoes, and she has recently completed her master's degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, with a focus on the use of social media in health care.

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Bringing together a 2015 Canada Winter Games medical team

The 2015 Canada Winter Games Medical Team.

The 2015 Canada Winter Games Medical Team.

Over the last couple months I’ve had the pleasure of working with Janet Ames, Chief Medical Officer, Brian Farrance, Chief Therapist and Joanne Archer, Chief Nurse as they plan for the medical coverage of the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

Between them, these three have volunteered medical services at over 30 games from the Vancouver Olympics to the Pan American Games in Cuba; from the Commonwealth Games in Victoria to the Nagano Olympics as well as a myriad of Canada Games including Halifax, Grand Prairie, PEI and Saskatoon! Suffice to say, there are some impressive and lengthy resumes for this medical team!

Janet, Brian and Joanne are eager to share with you what they love about volunteering at sports events in the hopes that health care professionals across the north will be inspired to join them in providing medical coverage for the 2015 Games.

As Brian recalls his long list of medical involvement in sports events he notes what a special opportunity the Canada Games are:

“This will be my seventh Canada Games and I consider these games the most fun of all with a great opportunity to learn from more experienced therapists, those with different experiences and to pass on my knowledge to those just starting out.”

Providing medical support at a Game’s event provides a unique and exciting work opportunity for physicians, therapists and nurses. Joanne speaks very highly of her experience providing medical support for Track and Field events at the Commonwealth Games:

“During the actual competition week it was really exciting to be watching and cheering on the various athletes I had come to know and become fond of. Sometimes I’m not sure who was more nervous or excited – them or me. There were a few injuries, especially in the hurdles and I got in the habit of just assuming I would have to run out and help someone from the track, so when they were in the “starting position” I was as well.”

The 2015 Canada Winter Games will offer opportunities to learn and teach, prepare and respond, as well as to witness athletic performances of young Canadians rising to the top of their sport. As Janet notes,

“Along the way I have been privileged to be present at some of the most amazing athletic performances and a number of heartbreaks.  The job of the physician at these events is to be present and resourceful no matter what the issue.”

Whether you have a great deal of experience in sports medicine or are new to sports event coverage, Janet, Brian and Joanne welcome health care professionals across the north to join them on the Medical Team for the 2015 Canada Winter Games .

“We hope you decide to join the team, and for some, start your love of event coverage.”Brian, Janet & Joanne

If you are interested in volunteering and want to stay up-to-date with information please contact:

Physicians: Janet Ames, Chief Medical Officer at 2015ChiefMedicalOfficer@gmail.com

Nurses: Joanne Archer, Chief Nurse at 2015HeadNurse@gmail.com

Physio and athletic therapists: Brian Farrance, Chief Therapist at 2015ChiefTherapist@gmail.com

Julia Stephenson

About Julia Stephenson

Julia is a master’s of public health graduate working with the 2015 Canada Winter Games. She is passionate about upstream health and creating environments that support well-being. Julia grew up in Ontario, but feels at home in B.C., and is embracing the move north with all the opportunities for outdoor activity. She enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, swimming, and being outside exploring new places.

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Healthy Living in the north starts with our children

Mother and baby

There are a lot of great benefits, for both mother and baby, when it comes to breastfeeding. What’s your positive experience with breastfeeding? (Photo by www.ericscottphotography.com)

As parents, we always want to do the best for our children, and if it’s an option, why not breastfeed?! I found breastfeeding created a special bond with each of my babies; all three loved to breastfeed around the clock. Although this was tiring, I look back at it now and realize that I got to spend quality time with each of my boys at a young age, knowing that I was promoting health and well-being, and in the end, creating the foundations of a healthy lifestyle to live by for each of them.

Why is breastfeeding important? Breastfeeding is just as important as handwashing, healthy eating and is great for the environment; breastfeeding – no garbage, no pollution and an attractive recyclable container! The Baby Friendly Initiative is a global effort for improving the role of maternity services to enable mothers to breastfeed babies for the best start in life. It aims at improving the care of pregnant women, mothers and newborns at health facilities that provide maternity services for protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk substitutes. The Breastfeeding Initiative is a great support to moms for breastfeeding within the north. In 2013 the theme for World Breastfeeding Week is Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers, with the goal of highlighting the importance of providing support to breastfeeding families.

World Breastfeeding Week will run from October 1-7, 2013, to recognize the importance of breastfeeding, promote the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies, as well as social and environmental benefits.

To kick off the festivities in Prince George, breastfeeding families are invited to celebrate the 13th Annual Prince George Breastfeeding Challenge on Saturday, October 5/2013.  The event is held annually around the world in hopes of setting a new international record for the most breastfeeding babies at one time. It also provides the opportunity to recognize the special bond of breastfeeding between mother and baby. The event will be held in the Keith Gordon Room at the Bob Harkins branch of the Prince George Public Library. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with official latch-on time starting promptly at 11 a.m. The entire family is encouraged to attend this free, fun-filled event. The Quintessence Foundation, a non-profit group providing education to parents and professionals about breastfeeding and human milk banking, sponsors the Breastfeeding Challenge.

“Despite most mothers wanting to breastfeed, many are met with complex barriers that keep them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals. Support and encouragement from all angles can make success possible for mothers who wish to breastfeed.” (WABA, 2013).

Laura Ravlic

About Laura Ravlic

Laura is a public health nurse who works for the children and families Team in Prince George, BC. She has three energetic boys who keep her busy out in the community with their many activities, including bike riding, class outings and soccer, for which she is an assistant coach. She is also involved in the Baby Friendly Initiative which promotes a breastfeeding friendly environment.

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Attention all donors! The 2013 Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life needs your help!

Dr. Abu Hamour

Dr. Abu Hamour, this year’s Scotiabank AIDS Walk Champion.

I’ll be blunt: the organizers for Saturday’s annual Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life in Prince George are in dire straits. Although almost $19,000 were raised in 2012 for this signature fundraising event, donations this year are nowhere near that as tomorrow’s walk approaches.

Positive Living North (PLN), one of Northern Health’s community partners, is hosting the Prince George walk this Saturday, as well as walks in Smithers, Moricetown and Hazelton through next week. Vanessa West, PLN’s executive director in Prince George, says all of the funds raised through the AIDS Walk events stay in the host communities and go directly to the services and programs to support Canadians living with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

So West has a message for you: PLN is asking northerners to support their annual AIDS walk events or the programs and services they offer to some of our most vulnerable citizens could be at risk.

Her plea comes as Northern Health is reporting an increase in the number of HIV tests being conducted throughout the region in 2012. Not only that, Dr. Abu Hamour, Infectious Diseases Specialist in northern BC — and the 2013 AIDS Walk Champion — reports that 88 per cent of the 233 HIV-positive patients in his care are on HIV medications.

What does this mean? Simply that while Northern Health and its community partners have made great progress in our collective efforts to bring awareness about HIV and AIDS to northern BC, and encourage northerners to get tested and treated early for HIV, there is still much work to be done to ensure that progress continues.

Don’t forget that at least 25 per cent of people with HIV don’t even know they have it. And although there’s no cure for HIV, it’s now considered a chronic disease that can be managed with antiretroviral medications. But for persons living with HIV/AIDS, life can be a challenge. And the support they receive from AIDS service organizations like PLN can be invaluable.

That’s where the rest of us come in. We need to remember that HIV does not discriminate and can affect anyone — all ages, all genders, all sexual preferences.

So if you can’t make it to this weekend’s Prince George AIDS Walk, you can opt to donate online or download a pledge form by visiting www.hiv101.ca. Or you can check out the times and locations of the AIDS Walk events listed below. Choose the one that’s closest to you and help fundraise for this most worthy cause.

Help us spread the word about HIV — not the disease:

  • Prince George, Saturday, September 14 • Masich Place Stadium • Registration: 11:30a.m. • Opening Ceremonies/Walk: 12p.m.
  • Moricetown, Wednesday, September 18 • Moricetown Multiplex • Registration: 11:30a.m. • Walk: 12p.m.
  • Smithers, Thursday, September 19 • Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre • Registration: 11:30a.m. • Walk: 1p.m.
  • Hazelton, Friday, September 20 • Hagwilget Bridge Pullout • Registration: 11:30a.m.• Walk begins: 12p.m.

Also, view highlights from Monday’s news conference promoting the 2013 AIDS Walk for Life on CKPG TV.

Joanne MacDonald

About Joanne MacDonald

Joanne MacDonald is a communications officer at Northern Health where she works on a number of projects, including the STOP HIV/AIDS program and integrated health services. Prior to joining Northern Health, Joanne worked in the journalism and communications fields in the lower mainland, Whitehorse and Ottawa. She keeps active by taking Zumba and spinning classes. She lives with her husband in Prince George.

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Tales from the Man Cave: The Dudes Club

Dudes Club

What do you think of a Dudes Club North?

Support groups for men are not all that common but the Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS) has one that has been very successful.

Recently a group of health and other professionals got together with men from the Dudes club and the physician from VNHS with a view to seeing if one could be started in the north.

What is the Dudes Club?

Well the “dudes” are: Downtown Urban-knights Displaying Equality and Solidarity.

We were at the Fire Pit Prince George recently and it was very pleasant atmosphere, friendly and welcoming.

The day started with breakfast followed by a prayer in English and Musqueam which reminded me of our common humanity and desire for unity and peace. At the table for this meeting of The Dudes Club initiative were people from the Vancouver Native Health Society and an array of local organizations. It was an all-inclusive Dudes gathering with a handful of women present. Humor flowed back and forth between everyone there.

The stories were very moving. One person told us that the Aboriginal survival rate from colonization was estimated to be 1 out of 10 – a heart wrenching statistic. One of the presenters was a man who spent a great deal of time on the streets of downtown eastside Vancouver. Dudes Club for him was a lifeline that allowed him to pull himself out of the quicksand.

Not just a shave and a haircut

This particular group of “Dudes” from the south started among the poorest of the poor in downtown eastside but it quickly expanded to include men from other socioeconomic groups. Their group is large – it has a regular attendance of around 70 and meets bi-weekly. Its main focus is men’s health and was originally based on the black barber shop men’s groups from the US which combine haircuts and health care – typically blood pressure checks within the barbers’ shops, but also a lot more. These groups have been the focus of increasing research in the US.

In this club, barbers come to the group and provide free haircuts, while the group itself provides a healthy meal. There is a physician connected to the group and gradually men come to that source and have some of their health care needs met. Different activities take place including bingo, hockey, and Tai Chi as well as outdoor activities.

Taking health care to where the men are

The group can also separate into smaller focus groups. Although there are a great deal of activities provided, the group’s main aim is to provide a place where they can build solidarity and brotherhood and its key concept is to take healthcare to where the men are, build a strong sense of community and to gain a sense of pride and fulfillment.

Would a Dudes Club North be of value?

The folks around the table seemed to think so and thus a conversation begins, of which I will keep you posted.

What do you think?

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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Small actions, big change (and a chance to win a bike!)

using a moisture meter

Barb’s son learning to use a moisture meter to check the moisture in firewood.

Small actions can lead to large change… that’s what I’ve learned since working in air quality. We all know that industry has a big role to play when it comes to cleaning up our air, but I think we often forget how important the individual’s role (yes, that means you and me) is as well. The impacts of wood burning, vehicle emissions and road dust in most northern airsheds are a lot bigger than most people expect (just look at the pie chart for Prince George).  It’s easiest to point the finger at the stacks, right? I get it! I know how tempting it is to drive through the Timmy’s drive-through on the way to work on a cold morning and I secretly cringed inside too when we talk about gathering winter firewood in the spring so that it can season for the summer (WHAT?… you want me to think about winter right now?).

Until working for the different airshed roundtables in our region, I never realized how important these individual decisions and actions can be for the overall betterment of our air. Every time we choose to car pool, bike, walk or stop idling; every time we teach our kids about the importance of preserving the natural environment; every time we ensure that we are not burning wet wood in old wood stoves; every time we minimize road dust by avoiding gravelled shoulders in the spring…. EVERY time we make these small decisions, we are helping to make our airshed cleaner. Without these individual decisions, our air quality concerns are not going to go away, no matter what industry does.

Prince George airshed

Impacts of wood burning, vehicle emissions and road dust in Prince George.lean

Given what I’ve learned, my family and I have taken steps to help improve our air. We carpool as much as possible, we try to plan our “running around” trips to minimize commuting time, we try to bike and walk when possible, we try to teach our kids the joys of being active and connected to our environment, we use a moisture meter to test the moisture content in the wood we burn, we use an EPA certified wood stove to heat our home and we don’t idle. We’re not perfect by any means, but we try to follow the advice I’ve heard tossed around at community airshed management discussions:  “reasonable people doing reasonable things.”  I think that is something that everyone can do… even you!

And now to get to the exciting part: how can this lead to winning a $1000 bike? To promote individual action and awareness, one community roundtable in our region, PGAIR, has put on two contests as part of Clean Air day, June 5 (unfortunately entries are limited to residents of Prince George).  The first contest is a poster contest for elementary school-aged kids. It is meant to get kids thinking about our air quality and individual actions that can be taken. The second contest will recognize a Clean Air Champion in the Prince George community: someone that has taken it upon themselves to take steps (be it small or large) to improve our airshed. The chosen Clean Air Champion will receive a $1000 bike!!! Visit PGAIR’s Clean Air day page for more information.

If you’re in Prince George, make sure to check out the contest details and nominate someone you know! For those outside of Prince George (and those in Prince George as well), let’s start to think about air quality in our everyday lives. You never know what contests might pop up… and in the meantime, you can are helping to make some real improvements in the air we breathe!

Barb Oke

About Barb Oke

Barb is a healthy community environments lead for Northern Health. Her passion is her family, and most of what she does to stay active and healthy centers around activities such as biking, hiking, walking, skiing, swimming and boating, where the whole family can be involved.

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Tales from the man cave: Prostate cancer support group

prostate cancer support group

Prince George Prostate Cancer Support Group

I spoke recently with John Kason of the Prince George Rotary Club. Like most Rotarians, he likes to keep the spotlight on the work being done by the club in collaboration with Canfor – in this case, men’s health screenings for prostate cancer.

Background

On November 10th of last year, the Rotary Club of Prince George organized a men’s health and prostate cancer awareness fundraiser called the “Big Blue Ball,” the first of its kind in northern B.C.

The end result was a sum of money for quarterly men’s health clinics throughout 2013, and startup funds for a local prostate cancer support network (now established, called the “Prince George Prostate Cancer Support Group”). The next sessions are Saturday, May 11, 2013 and Saturday, August 10, 2013.

Don’t you just love the sound of that rubber glove snapping onto the wrist in poetic majesty? The ‘dread,’ or DRE, otherwise known as the digital rectal exam is here to stay.

Please Doctor, why can’t I just have a blood test? 

Well you can but the DRE is a must have. The PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test is the simplest way to get tested but it can give higher reading for different reasons so the DRE is indeed necessary.

I do know this though – over the years, a sense of humour has been very appropriate to break the ice at that particular moment (while the doctor slips into something more comfortable – that aforementioned rubber glove). It is at least an excuse for a few jokes at work.

Here is where I put in my disclaimer. Some prostate cancers are very slow growing and, in my opinion, the jury is out as to the value of treatment at all, however, it is better to know what is going on and be monitored by your doctor than to bury your head in the sand.

The groups have organized screening events which continue throughout the year. Testing is being provided at no cost to participants and registration is now open.

Please visit www.thebigblueball.ca or call 250.617.2711 for more information and to register.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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